29 November 2011

Greed

It’s the reason this happened:

Authorities say a teenage girl was trampled at a western Michigan Walmart store and suffered minor injuries after getting caught in a rush to a sale in the electronics department.
The Muskegon Chronicle reports the girl was taken to a local hospital Friday morning. Fruitport Township Supervisor Brian Werschem says the girl was knocked down and stepped on several times in the store near Muskegon.

The difference between prole shoppers on black Friday and the banksters is that one group is significantly better than the other at being greedy.

 Simply put, most, if not all humans are motivated by greed.  Some may be motivated by the self-indulgent pursuit of vice, others may be motivated by enlightened self-interest, and some may be straightforwardly interested in certain things.  Whatever the case may be, all humans are greedy.  All humans want things for themselves.  There are, of course, varying levels of self-restraint attached to the pursuit of those things one desires, but fundamentally all people act in pursuit of those things they desire.

As such, it is ludicrous to simply blame greed as the root of all of society’s ills.  Humans have always been greedy, but not all societies have been unceasingly dysfunctional.  Why?  Because there have been occasions when social rulers have found a way to mitigate the negative effects of greed.  This usually comes by fostering a system of voluntary cooperation, generally exemplified in the free market.

Therefore, social ills—such as people being trampled at a shopping center, or market collapses—should not be blamed on simple greed.  Greed can be, and has been effectively channeled into productivity. If, therefore, that productivity lapses into destruction, the blame should be placed not on those who are greedy, but on those who make the incentives.

2 comments:

  1. "Blaming greed for economic/social problems is equivalent to blaming gravity for plane crashes."

    I forgot where I found that quote, but it's the perfect analogy.

    Obviously greed/gravity is present in a disfunctional situation, but it's equally present in the planes and markets that don't crash. The key to is to identify which variables produce different results.

    Btw, my phone(iphone 4) seems to have a lot of trouble sometimes with the mobile version of your blog(especially comments.)

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  2. @Ellimist- What's frustrating is how this remarkably simple insight-that greed itself is insufficient to cause market failure- is often overlooked because it makes a compelling narrative. Weirdly, no one thinks that gravity makes a similarly compelling narrative for plane crashes.

    In regards to your mobile browser issues, there is not much I can do (nor indeed want to). My blog is optimized for PC users, specifically those with Firefox and Chrome, who constitute a sizeable portion of my readers. If it helps, I've found that the mobile version of my blog is decently rendered by Opera Mini on my Android phone. I don't know if you use the native browser on your iPhone (Safari). If you do, you might try Opera Mini instead. I believe it's free for iPhone.

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